Main Square in Opatów
|• Total||9.36 km2 (3.61 sq mi)|
|• Density||710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Area code(s)||+48 15|
Opatów [ɔˈpatuf] ( ) is a town in Poland, in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, historic province of Lesser Poland. It is the capital of Opatów County. Its population is 7,833 (2007). Opatów is located among the hills of Lesser Polish Upland, with the Opatówka river dividing the town into two parts. The town marks the intersection of two main roads - European route E371, and national road nr 74 (Piotrków Trybunalski – Hrubieszów). Opatów, however, has no rail connection. Nearest station is at Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, 17 km (11 mi) away.
Tourist attractions include a 12th-century Collegiate Church of St. Martin, 15th-century baroque Bernardine monastery, 16th-century city gate, and several other notable buildings.
In the Middle Ages, Opatów was a settlement on the Opatówka River, in an area of forests and lakes. First mentioned in 1189, it was the residence of the regional ruler (Castellan) and one of the largest settlements of the Sandomierz Land. First church was built here some time in the 11th century. In the 12th century, St. Martin collegiate church was built as well. The purpose of the collegiate church is not known, it was probably designed for a Roman Catholic diocese which was created in Sandomierz instead.
In 1232, prince Henryk Brodaty transferred Opatów to Lawrence, Bishop of Lubusz. In 1237, it was granted privileges that regularized the status of its residents and in 1361 it received the status of a city with wide privileges. In the first half of the 14th century, Bishop of Lubusz Stefan II decided to move the center of the town to the hill near the collegiate church. New town was called Great Opatów (Opatów Wielki), also Magnum Oppathow and Magna Opatow.
For centuries, until the Partitions of Poland, Opatów was an important regional center of Lesser Poland. During an invasion of the Tartars (1502), the town was destroyed. In 1514, it was transferred to Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, who restored it, surrounded with a defensive wall, built a castle and offices for the local government, and improved the water supply to the residents. Opatów had two annual fairs and two market days a week. In the 16th century, Opatów had the population of app. 4,000, and was the biggest town of the province, even bigger than Sandomierz. The town was a center of political life of the Voivodeship; here General Sejmiks of the Lesser Poland nobility took place. In 1551 however, Opatów almost completely burned, and the great fire marked a slow decline of the town. In 1655, Opatów was destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland. The town also suffered during other conflicts - the Great Northern War, the Bar Confederation, the Polish–Russian War of 1792, and the Kościuszko Uprising. It belonged to a number of noble families (Tarnowski family, Ostrogski family, Lubomirski family, Potocki family, and Karski family), and remained in private hands until 1864.
In the 18th century, Opatów became home to a number of Greeks, who had escaped to Poland from Turkish occupation of their homeland (see Ottoman Greece). They were allowed to open Orthodox churches. In 1778, an Orthodox parish of St Nicholas was opened, which in 1837 was moved to Radom. During the January Uprising, two battles took place in Opatów between Russians and II Corps of General Józef Hauke-Bosak. Poles captured the town on November 25, 1863, and withdrew with seized Russian guns and ammunition. On February 21, 1864, second battle took place. It was one of the largest skirmishes of the uprising, and it ended in Polish defeat.
Prior to the Second World War, Opatów had a substantial Jewish population, see History of Jews in Opatów. The community was destroyed during the Holocaust in Poland. Opatów was a large center of the underground resistance in World War II. In the night of March 12/13 1943, a unit of Jędrusie, together with soldiers of the Home Army, attacked local prison, releasing 82 inmates.
- Witold Gombrowicz, born in nearby village of Maloszyce.
- Włodzimierz Mazur, football player
- Tomasz Żelazowski
- Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt (Apter Rebbe, Apter Rov), lived here
- Itche Goldberg, Yiddish writer and scholar of Yiddish culture.
- Yisroel Hopsztajn (Hapstein)
- Mayer Kirshenblatt
- Yechezkel Landau
Media related to Opatów at Wikimedia Commons
- Official town website
- Saint Martin's Church in Opatów
- Map, via mapa.szukacz.pl
- "Pinkas" at jewishgen.org